Recently I read a post about how influencers are reaping the benefits of affiliate marketing. Of course, the post addressed that all too common problem of how affiliate marketing can get a bad name and how easy it is to lose the trust of customers.
The reality is this. Affiliate links can be even more powerful with influence coming from the right people.
Metrics Can Be Tough
As someone who uses affiliate links a lot, I know what metrics I need to put into place— both for the vendor and myself— to see if they are working and if not, which strategies I need to tweak.
The fact is, some metrics can be tough.
Let’s go back to the influencer. Now everyone has their own opinion of this whole space and how it plays into social, marketing, and other stuff. In fact, having some influence (although I don’t particularly like the term influencer), I have been approached myself. So I speak from experience.
Tracking Links and Such
Between the plugin I use for my affiliate link management, Thirsty Affiliates, and tying in the data from Google Analytics, when it comes to the numbers, I have a firm grasp on what is going on. In fact, there are many creative strategies you can use to track what is happening.
But there is more to it than that.
The Lost Clicks
While you may truly believe in the product or service you an affiliate of, and you want to ask people to take a look at it, still there are times when a click-through just doesn’t happen.
Consider these examples:
Workshops and Presentations – You might recommend products, services, software, etc that are part of your curriculum, slide presentations in follow-up emails. And there are times that someone will ask you a question that can only be answered by saying, Check out xyz product. It will do exactly what you need. Often you don’t have the opportunity to share a link that they will use to click through, or even a custom link verbally that they will remember. But still, you want to be helpful.
Casual Conversations – This situation is a bit more intimate. Again, offering a wonderful resource to someone doesn’t always mean that you want to ask them to wait so you can email them your affiliate link later. Sometimes you just want to send them away with a good recommendation that solved their problem.
Audios and Videos – If you create tutorials or have a podcast, again, there are limitations. In the tutorial, sure, you might have notes with the post, but what if they watch on YouTube and don’t read your notes. You can also have a banner pop up in the video with the special URL they should use, yet who is going to write that down? Same with podcasts. Verbal, custom links can be repeated and there will be a few who will make the point to use them. But what about all the others?
And Then There is the Vague Measurement of ‘Branding’
Click-throughs and ultimately conversions, are where we see the evidence of our efforts. But on both sides, the affiliate marketer and the influencer, we don’t always see such clear results. When someone hears a brand over and over again from a trusted person, that click-through probably doesn’t happen immediately, so who should get the credit when the sale happens? This is what makes the science inexact. They remember the XYZ product because they read and hear about it a lot. But when it comes time to purchase, whether it’s 6 days or 6 months down the road, not everyone goes in search of your special link.
In the end, we all deal with it.
The company has a few less sales that they can track to a single individual. The affiliate marketer or influencer has a slightly lighter pocketbook.
But remember, it all evens out in the end.